Estimated reading time: 7 minutes, 22 seconds

Managing Your Mobile Devices

mobile art.In the 1980s, the typical portable computer weighed 30 pounds. Things have changed. Smartphones are required part of everyone's professional mobile toolkit. Tablet computing devices are either in use or on the way. The weights are decreasing and allow us to move a little easier with less weight lifting pull-ups.
Current weights:
• Smartphone - five ounces
• Tablet - one to two pounds
• Laptop - three to five pounds
• Chargers - power bricks and USB connectors not included

It is no longer a question of will you or won't you be mobile. You already are using the world of mobility and it is growing exponentially. If not, you are likely on a spiritual quest without need or desire for contact. Mobile access is expected by those you work with and those you service and everyone else. Yes, I do mean all. The days of loaning desktops and laptops to staff and associates are over. The professional road warriors are all about all things portable and connectable. This mobility delivers a few questions that arise from the expanding mobile toolkit.

• Who buys the next mobile device - the individual or the firm?
• Who is accountable and responsible for safety and security - if lost/stolen, who pays?
• Is there a standard - iOS, Android, Mobile 7, Blackberry or does each select their own?
• How will these devices be enabled or disabled from access to firm information, client data, paid for websites?
• Is there any policy about what APPS are permitted or restricted?

All of the questions above imply that what is happening in this expanding mobile world is that as any technology evolves, there is a corresponding evolution for the demands surrounding the appropriate management of all devices and accessories. This includes laptops, phones, tablets, Apps, downloads, and the use of any public private internet access point.

I had a conversation with Dan Croft, CEO of Mission Critical Wireless (MCW) and a mobility management expert with more than 25 years of experience in the industry. ( Dan has assisted companies of all sizes to expand and manage their expansion into the use of mobile technology. He knows that how a company manages mobile devices is extremely significant for control, confidentiality and privacy.

Croft strongly urges examination of everything mobile. Here are a few key areas:
• The enterprise/firm needs to prepare and be ready to adopt mobile technology. This includes both the users and the IT department. Therefore, it is essential that procedures and policies be in place for appropriate levels of deployment and support.
• Identify, assign and give power to those who are responsible and accountable for all mobile security issues - firm, user, IT department.
• Employees will adopt mobile devices whether or not the firm has any policy. This alone should motivate firms to assess their approach to mobility with staff, clients and professional contacts.
• Consideration and recommendations for staff to acquire any mobile device that will be used to access firm or client information. Companies can approve and reject specific products that can be acquired by staff. Control over starts before people buy them and commence use.

Croft does more than suggest establishing Mobile Device Management. Hesays, "The future of mobile technologies will flow through all that we do: tracking where we are located through GPS-dependent apps, using the mobile device as a cash register to pay and collect wirelessly, and the ever-shrinking divide between personal and business communicating." He also observes that acceleration of everything is happening and not just with faster chips and operating systems.

It has been demonstrated that data from here to the edge of space is accessible from any mobile device. We can connect with the office next door, the office in another city or country; we get transmissions from the battlefield, the planet Venus and the Pillars of Hercules. With all data accessible from anywhere at any time, the servers and all communications facilities have lots of security through firewalls and other effective security applications.

More resources from more places are leading us to lots of choices which lead us to the growing opportunities for personalization and customization. What will your firm do if/when every mobile device owner customizes some portion of their phones and tablets? It will be the battle of control versus freedom. Croft anticipates that many enterprises will evolve with their own internal App stores. Thus, employees will buy and subscribe through a company monitored facility. Smaller companies may not be able to do this.

"Every company needs to integrate some form of security for mobile applications and mobile access,"  says Croft. "Remember that mobile protection is not just about securing the content, it is also the names, file names, site names and passwords resident on the mobile device that need to be locked and not discoverable when device is in someone else's possession, such as when shared with an adult or child family member."

Developing a strategy starts with a few focal points:

Implementing ways to manage mobile devices
Methods include purchasing policies for who pays - employee or employer. When a device is not the property of the employee, there must be rules that include a way to enforce them. The risk of uncontrolled device purchasing presents potential risks.

Company bandwidth resources
Depending on the applications and resources provided through mobile technologies, it is essential that sufficient bandwidth, including back up communications resources, be part of overall IT systems planning. Mobile applications have no value if they cannot connect to the programs and content.

Security, privacy, confidentiality, et al
As firms expand their own digital storehouses of information, protecting the information from crooks and hackers out for some fun, needs more than just appropriate rules. Croft calls this the "Device Management Space" which needs to be watched carefully because workers expect freedom for their use of phones and tablets. It is very difficult for any company to control what a smartphone or tablet can be used for by an employee. It is not likely, at the moment, for employees to have two totally different smartphones.

Each firm will develop its own device management solution. The use of the far away cloud silos will have a significant impact as more data and applications will be accessed at some point through a wireless link. Even virtualization will migrate to the mobile device space. How firms will protect how virtualization will be implemented on mobile devices will be established over the next few years.

Technology advances will increase the need for managing mobile devices. These are some examples:
• Monitoring actions and locations live and in real time will be more than a watch dog as it can also help provide security breach information;
• Making presentations via a cloud-based server enables data to be updated once for every employee using the same presentation content ;
• The ability to disable a lost mobile device from a central location;
• Reducing time delays to send and receive content.

How long it takes to return a client's phone or email question is measurable. Clients will not care if you are using older, slower technologies. Clients expect you to be connected at least in some comparable method that they use. Being out of touch is no longer acceptable.

There was a time when there were lots of phone manufacturers and almost as many carriers. The quantity of carriers is decreasing while the new and updated applications are becoming more agnostic. Operating systems are proprietary to specific devices today. Blackberry, Google Android, Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows are tightly protected OS's. The evolution will continue to enable all wanted applications to be accessible by any OS. Connecting to the cloud, downloading a movie, and texting a message is not exclusive to any single vendor or carrier.

Smartphones and Tablets are computers that require protection. They will have a combination of personal apps and business apps. Anti-virus, firewalls and encryption of messages and attachments will become necessary. The bad guys do not care if you have just been called to the ER or that your client has just one more tax question. Their focus is to interrupt your activities or steal from you or both.

The overlap of personal entertainment and connections with access to your business information can be displayed as a Venn diagram. All elements have to be protected. Consequently, it needs to be a priority to commence forward thinking, strategic planning and a willingness adapt as time moves along.

Mobile technology is a moving target. Motion does not translate to not being able to take aim at the target as it moves. There is time to be proactive so that the target does not escape your sight and any attempt to manage your mobile devices becomes something you could have done, but chose to do less than what was needed. Managing your ever growing quantity of mobile devices and applications needs to start now.

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